Fishing Pensacola and the Gulf

I have a Perception Illusions 14.0, it is a great little kayak! I just took it to the Everglades for about 9 days (see pictures:, of course the picture doesn’t do me justice if any ladies are watching :). I am about to move to the Pensacola area for the summer and I was wondering how good the fishing is out there. I have a fishing pole or two but i don’t know what kind of bait, line, or gear i need for fishing off a kayak. What kind of fish can I catch there and how far should I kayak out? I want to know it all! I found a retrofit kit for a Harmony Backcountry fishing kit ( for $30. Does anyone have this set up, should i buy it?



Ain’t no fish in Pensacola
Here’s an example of what someone else has done with the Illusion for fishing.

I probably wouldn’t buy the kit that you were asking about. It’s my experience that the folding anchor doesn’t hold very well on a hard sand bottom. I use a ten foot long piece of PVC pipe as an anchor stake in shallow water and it works great.

I don’t like the paddle clips that come with the kit either. Some folks may love them. I don’t.

What kind of fish can you catch in Pensacola? Redfish, flounder and trout would be my main targets. If you haven’t been properly introduced to redfish, get ready. As Tony the Tiger would say… Theeeeeeeeeeeer’re GREAT!

Truth be told, there are no fish in Pensacola. Drive four hours to the west and come visit the Sportsman’s Paradise. ;o)


– Last Updated: Mar-31-04 7:55 AM EST –

The kit's not bad for the money...but...

I got my plastic rod holders for $6 apiece at the marine hardware store around the corner from where we live. (Crook & Crook: "We don't aim to live up to our name") They come in black & white -take your pick.

I don't use corks -what happens if you tip with a rod IN the holder? The rod falls out, and you have a nice porthole to the inside of your Illusion. I sanded off the ridges at the bottom, and marine epoxy glued and then screwed in a tight-fitted plastic plumbing cap I picked up at home depot for maybe $1.50. They're waterproof.

The 1# anchor is skimpy -go for at least the 3-pounder. It has SIGNIFICANTLY wider flukes that WILL hold sand. And up around the panhandle you will need a sand anchor.

I've rigged and anchor traveler so I can position the anchor line anywhere from bow to stern, so if there's a current running, I can point into, or run with, or broach against the flow.

The anchor rope is no big deal. I use braided rayon (?) 3/8” rope -nice and supple, strong, non-stretch, fairly abrasion-resistant, coiled up on a Cuban Yo-Yo -about 50' or so.

I happen to like paddle clips. Some yak anglers prefer leashes, but I find clips hold the paddle out of the way and out of the cockpit (of my infamous lime green Scupper Pro TW) fine for me. I bought mine at the local Home Depot.

I don't pop-rivet, I use SS screws with both screw and pilot hole coated in a good marine silicone sealant, and it works just fine for all the pad eyes, clips, and rod-holders I've added to Sally's Scupper Classic, and my S-Pro TW. I DID rivet a pad eye to my glass Isthmus for my paddle leash. I’ve added numerous pad eyes to clip bungees to –I bungee a basket on the back of the Old Pro in the TW, in which I’ve fastened 2 PVC plastic pipes which serve as additional rod holders –I can carry 3 rods with me that way.

I suggest you conduct a search of the archives, look both for “rigging”, “kayak setup”, and “anchor” & “anchors”, for subjects, and look back maybe 2-3 years. You'll get a lot of good leads on rigging your boat.

Also –go to any of the kayak fishing-specific sites. You’ll have your eyes opened at all the things a yak can –and HAS –been outfitted with!

So do your research, set up your boat, and get out there some more and now fish ‘in style’ as you

Paddle on!

-Frank in Miami

great time down in the 'Glades as you and the crew did

Paddle on!

-Frank in Miami

P-Cola fishing
I’d skip the kit. You can make rod holders for peanuts and I find a paddle leash far superior to clips for kayak fishing. Most of the time the paddle will be in your lap anyway. Because the Illusion doesn’t have a tankwell you might want to consider lashing a milk crate to the rear hatch. You lash two pieces of 1.5" PVC pipe into the corners and voila you got two rod holders, plus a convienent catch all for you tackle box, pliers, etc. As far as anchors go get a drift sock. I’ve used the small folding anchor and after losing two to hangups on the bottom I just use a drift anchor.

As far as tackle and bait go:

Any rod/reel suitable for freshwater bass will work fine for inshore Gulf fishing. I like 10 lb. test line and I’ll add a shock leader of 20 lb. test if I’m after toothy critters. I use spinning reels and usually a 7’ medium light action rod, what we on the Texas coast call a popping rod. Make sure you rinse it in freshwater at the end of the day to keep the corrosion down. I also lube my reels once a week when I fish the salt.

Live shrimp, frozen shrimp, mullet, pinfish, crab are all awesome bait for inshore Gulf fishing. Sand fleas are terrific for catching pompano in the surf. And pompano are delicious sauteed in butter and lime juice. Try working a live shrimp under a popping cork on the flats around a grass bed. Artificals like DOA shrimp, spoons, plastic tail jigs all work pretty good.

Probably the most common fish you’ll seek inshore are redfish, speckled trout and flounder. But you’ll probably catch plenty of croaker and cats too.

Hope that helps. Good luck!!!